By Joy Connelly
Almost exactly one year ago I screwed up my courage, pressed Send, and invited you to read my first blog.
It was a nerve-wracking moment. Would you read it? Would anyone read it? Would friends avoid me so they wouldn’t have to admit they hadn’t read the blog, or didn’t like it?
I needn’t have worried. The blog has been a joyful experiment for me. I learned that the sermon really is my natural medium, and it doesn’t matter whether that sermon is a spoken 15 minutes, or a printed 800 words.
I learned that the questions that intrigue me also intrigue others – and those “others” are not only church-types. And I found that the blog opened the door to conversations that I would never have imagined. One of my favorite moments was at the Wednesday Night Suppers. I was at table with four or five fellows, exchanging banalities, when Roger burst in, pointed his finger at me, and said, “Yes. Problem of evil. I’ve been meaning to write a comment on your blog.” Five heads swiveled to face me. And suddenly we were having a rather profound conversation about the nature of good and evil.
There have been many other discoveries. Without the blog, I would never have known about John Deacon’s homelessguide.com , or his deep commitment to “bringing the outsiders in.” My colleague Alina Chatterjee and I would not have found a shared touchstone in the phrase, “poor in spirit.” I would have missed out on the life-shaping insights offered by Elizabeth and John Sherk, John E., Jill, Pat, Roxanne, Helen, Julie, Kathy C. and my own husband, Paul Connelly. (That in itself has been one of the pleasures of the blog – elevating my conversations at home above the day-to-day.) Not to mention the ideas from Dan, Hamish, Barb, Jamie, Clark, Rhonda, Mel, Paul D. Deborah, Allan, Richard, Christine and others that have really made me think.
I also had some surprises. In the early days, I told people that one of my goals for the blog was to demonstrate that, the media notwithstanding, real Christians don’t sit around talking about evolution and homosexuality. And then, what do you know? Two of the most popular entries were Paul’s riff on the creationism/evolution debate, Can We Call a Truce? and Rosemary’s Finding One’s Own Way on the Christian experience of gays.
A new beginning for me
I’ve had so much fun with this blog. But, as my friend Jane might ask me, “Will it get better if you stay longer?” The answer is no. I feel that I have said everything that was stored up inside me. And now it’s time for something new.
For the past few months, I have been seized (gripped! obsessed!) with questions about the future of social housing. I have worked or volunteered in this field for 30 years, and have been glad to be part of this work.
But many of the ideas that launched this social justice movement are played out. I think the time is ripe for a new movement and fresh thinking. And I hope to be among the people who will spark a new, public conversation that will inform the next 30 years. So for me, the dialogue continues – it’s the topic that’s changed.
A new beginning for the blog
And yet I very much want the conversation about faith we’ve begun together to continue. Happily, Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove does too.
Many of you first met Rosemary through her contributions to this blog. I met Rosemary over 20 years ago through her husband Dave, my colleague in developing new housing co-ops. We rarely see each other more than 3 or 4 times a year. But for me, these encounters have been inspiring and immensely encouraging.
Rosemary has also, for me, been an example of intelligent, humble and compassionate faith in action – as a wife and mother, children’s church leader, co-ordinator of an Out of the Cold Program, animator of her own street – there’s a wonderful photo of Rosemary surrounded by 50+ neighbours gathered in her honour – and most recently, manager of Yonge Street Mission’s Genesis Place.
Rosemary has recently retired. It’s been a time to settle into a new home in St. Catharines. It’s also been a chance to reflect, and to rekindle an interest in writing.
I knew Rosemary was ripe to convene this blog when she started to send me entries before I asked for them. And now that she’s accepted my request to take on my role as the convener of the “bigger circle,” I see the gleam in her eyes whenever a conversation suggests fresh blog material. One year ago, I was exactly the same.
I will still be around, contributing entries when I’m bursting with something to share. But mostly, I’m looking forward to hearing what Rosemary and the rest of you have to say.
Thank you all. And keep writing!